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Playing Politics – a few candidates worth consideration

Peter Jenkinson

No canvassing necessary, no front-door confrontations with strangers and most certainly no need to repeatedly utter the politicians’ favoured phrase “Let me be clear”. This category hasn’t been a favourite of designers since the recent upsurge in popularity of board game playing. This is likely down to zombies, monsters and space-based activity being a little more inspirational, but with global and closer-to-home politics presently being quite so entertaining/terrifying, a new title is surely due soon.

Here’s half a dozen we’ve uncovered that we fancy playing:

Churchill

A three player game with each person taking on the role of Churchill, Roosevelt, or Stalin. Manoeuvre against each other over the course of six conferences and determine who will lead the Allied forces, where those forces will be deployed, and how you’ll be victorious. The player with most control over surrendered powers will win peace and the game. It’s also cooperative so you must work together to beat the opposition, or all three Allies lose. There’s also a two-player and solo variant. Bring cigars, epic quotes and vodka for added reality.

Diplomacy

Play this combo of political intrigue and military power staged across Imperial Europe. Touted as a game of pure skill, ultimate strategy with no dice and no luck – it sounds quite appealing. The fact this 2-7 player game is a three-hour plus play might not be for everyone though, that’s longer than a late night debate in the Houses of Parliament! Deceit, double-standards and danger lurk everywhere in Diplomacy, where each player represents one of the seven "Great Powers of Europe" (Great Britain, France, Austria, Germany, Italy, Russia or Turkey) in the years prior to World War I. Move your armies to attack territories, to support an allied unit and more by writing sets of orders. For this one we recommend military headwear be worn to get you in the zone.

Mr President – The game of campaign politics

A flashback to the American political scene of the sixties but plays well in re-enacting, with a decent level of authenticity, modern day US politics. Realistic campaigning and events are played which lead to the voting of the President and Vice President. There’s a ballot box, tally boards, candidate cards, ballot cards and campaign HQ cards. This 2-4 person play is a mixture of skill and luck with elements of excitement and tension as the campaign develops. You get to fundraise, advertise, go on whistle-stop campaigning tours, undertake debates, and there’s the occasional political gaffe along the way plus a collection of rumour cards.

Die Macher

You’re going to have to be a dedicated devotee of all things political to get into this game, and find at least two others with similar dedication and four hours to play. It’s a play based on seven sequential political races in different regions of Germany. Players are each in charge of national political parties, and must manage limited resources to help their party to victory. There are regional elections, points to be scored for media influence, points on offer for parties whose regional platforms mimic that of their national party, and points for anyone who doesn’t leave the table of play for the duration of the game. Yes, that last bit we made up. The board game looks like a massive optical illusion.

Poleconomy – The power game

An oldie, look at how dated that cover looks, circa 1970 it first came out and republished in 1983. A box we think worthy of its place alongside your classic Cluedo set, yes the one with the actually quite dangerous mini-dagger. So, this game tries to mimic the way that government, finance and industry all interact. Players, 2-6 of them, try to become both tycoons and politicians and thereby gain both political and financial power. As a tycoon, buy and sell UK corporations and brand products, invest in insurance, buy bonds, and bid takeovers. As a politician and member of Parliament, you then try to move from the opposition to becoming a member of Government, and then Prime Minister through the election process. Decisions you then make as PM will affect the financials of all on the board. Doesn’t it all sound so very despicable?

The Voting Game

OK so this NSFW play isn’t about politics, well not in the sense of dullards in suits talking nonsense about nothing of any interest. Cynics? Us? The voting game falls into the adult party play league, up to ten grown-ups gather round and the first card is played. For example, it might state, “Who would survive the longest in a zombie apocalypse”? Players then vote anonymously for the player that is best described by the question. The results are added and revealed to other players, each player guesses who voted for them. Players get one guess for every vote they received. If they guess correctly, the truth is revealed. There are 160 question cards and five variations on the game, sounds alright, not really for anyone who is a bit mardy and can’t take a joke – you know who you are.